Reserve Citizen Airmen broadens leadership perspectives with NATO

Broadening leadership perspectives with NATO

NATO and U.S. Air Force Reserve officers pose for a photo during the NATO Senior Reserve Officer Course in Oberammergau, Germany. (Courtesy Photo)


Air Force Reserve leaders participated in a perspective-changing NATO course in Oberammergau, Germany.

The NATO Senior Reserve Officer course brings together reservists and active duty members from a number of military branches and countries. The course aims to provide students with an advanced understanding of the contemporary strategic environment the Alliance operates in, including the various roles, missions, and doctrines of Reserve Forces throughout the Alliance.

The course is offered for those currently serving in a NATO assignment or those responsible for implementing or developing reserve policy, strategy and doctrine.

Through formal lecture and moderated question and answer sessions the course teaches participants about the NATO command and operation structure/ongoing operations, builds an understanding of the contemporary and future security environment and deepens their understanding of the strategic concept, NATO enlargement, and partnerships and the relevance of reserve forces.

Most of the participants would say the key value of the training was getting to know one another and how NATO entities maximize use of their reserve forces.

“I enjoyed meeting with other reserve officers, but what I learned is that U.S. Reserve Forces are fairly unique in the level of operational support provided, especially within the Air Force Reserve,” said Col. Matthew Burger, commander of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March Air Reserve Base, California. “Many NATO nations continue to use their reserve forces in staffing roles, more like our individual mobilization augmentees, and few employ their forces as whole units.”

Members who attended the class learned a lot about leadership and NATO, but mostly they learned about each other and gained new perspective.

“Our NATO partners have such varied perspectives and they simply look at issues differently,” said Col. Joel Winton, battle watch captain at U.S. European Command Joint Operations Center, Stuttgart, Germany. “Specifically the Swedes in the course, we had five or six older majors. Keep in mind, this is a small force of highly competent individuals who are incredibly efficient problem solvers.”

Both men said the networking and partnership building was as equally valuable as the training they received during the course. 

“The profession of arms, regardless of the country, is one that means a similar thing to very different people in terms of camaraderie forged through trial and success,” said Winton. “We have so many similar experiences and NATO has put over a million troops through Afghanistan, these guys have been fighting side by side with us. The more peacetime contact and partnership-building we accomplish, the more effective and capable we are together in wartime.”

Being able to rely on those connections allows the response to be swift and efficient according to Winton.

Beyond the education and networking, the location for the course is unbeatable.

“My experience was very positive both professionally and personally,” said Burger. “The school at Oberammergau is historically significant, they bring in great speakers, and the setting in Germany is beautiful.”

The Air Force Reserve is committed to building our future leaders and preserving a capable force for the defense of our nation.

Anyone who would like to attend this course can apply through RSSB to attend the course, or if members are assigned to a NATO area of responsibility post or billet, they can apply directly through their chain of command.

“I encourage folks to apply,” said Winton. “This is a unique opportunity to learn new perspectives, share yours and be an ambassador for the Air Force.”

For more information visit the NATO school website or contact your chain of command.